The Miracles of the Lord

A miracle is an act of super-human power. The miracles of the Lord Jesus were such, and were the attestation of His person and mission. They were His Father's works, as His arresting and challenging words to the Jews declared, "If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not. But if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe the works; that ye may know and believe, that the Father is in Me, and I in Him" (John 10:37-38). The Holy Ghost speaking through Simon Peter on the day of Pentecost, described these works as "miracles, wonders and signs which God did by Him." They were works of power that amazed the people and were signs to them that God had come down to them in mercy; Modernism refuses to accept the miraculous. It holds that there are "laws of nature" that are unvarying and irrevocable, that they cannot be overruled or suspended, and that what appeared to be miracles in former days were simply the operations of certain of these laws which were unknown at the time. They would instance the fact that the King was able to speak to the whole Empire on Christmas Day and was heard 12,000 miles away as clearly as in the room in which he spoke. One hundred years ago such an idea would have been laughed at as the conception of a madman. Yes, but the works of the Lord were not on such a plane as that; they were wrought in another realm; they were addressed to the needs and miseries of men, which were the result of sin. He raised the dead to life: He fed hungry multitudes: He healed the severed ear of an enemy, and by word and touch delivered those who were oppressed by long-standing and incurable maladies. He who did these things was the One who had created all things, and amongst the all things were the laws of nature that bind the universe together for its good. They are His laws and most surely subservient to Him. In them is declared the wisdom of the Creator, and when they have been discovered and made use of, they ought to have had the effect of turning men into worshippers of the One who created them, and making them ashamed of themselves that they had not discovered them before. Instead of which, men are puffed up with pride as though they had made them themselves.

Whatever laws there may be in the physical universe, one thing is certain, the law of man's relation to his Creator and God was disturbed by his disobedience in Eden. Then there entered into his being and his relations with God what had not been there before. "By one man sin entered into the world and death by sin; and death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned" (Rom 5:12). "The law of sin and death" (Rom. 8), began then to exercise its inexorable power in the lives of men; they were affected by it spiritually, morally and physically. Tears, death, sorrow, crying and pain (Rev. 21:4) were the result of this invasion of man's life by sin. These things affect him in this life, and after it the judgment. It was to this state of things that the Lord addressed Himself when He came into the world. What had the laws of nature to do with this? The object of His coming was to deliver men from all oppression, to restore the broken relationship with God and to bring them back into full suitability to God, as the Scriptures declare, "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them" (2 Cor. 5:19).

It is against this intervention of God for the blessing of men that modernism concentrates its subtle forces. It must explain away the miracles. I give an instance of this. In a paper entitled "The Spirit of God and the Healing of Disease" appearing, regretably enough, in an evangelical magazine, we are treated to the following. "It is recorded by St. Luke in chapter 13. A woman came to the synagogue suffering from infirmity or weakness. The complaint was of long standing — eighteen years. Jesus described her as a daughter of Abraham whom Satan had bound. With our present knowledge we should say, 'In the grip of a false idea, making weakness instead of health God's will for her.' The cure was not easy even for Jesus. When He saw her He called her and said, 'Woman thou art loosed from thine infirmity.' But she was not cured. Then Jesus evidently came down from the platform into the body of the synagogue where the woman was, and laid His hand upon her. In this way His vision of perfect health inspired her. His mighty faith overcame her timidity and she was healed."

Passing over the obvious distortion of the Divinely-given record, which says nothing about the cure not being easy, or the woman not being cured at the word of the Lord, or His having to step down from the platform to accomplish it — to that which is worse, we must conclude, if we accept this author's view, that we, with our present knowledge, know more than the Lord did, and that what He accomplished in the healing of the woman, He did as a clever psychologist or Christian Scientist, and not as the Sovereign Lord, "the Son of God manifested that He might destroy the works of the devil" (1 John 3:8). It is all of one piece with the general attack upon the glory of the person of our Lord, His infallibility and omniscience, and upon the character of His mission to men. It is more and worse, for if the Lord wrought His miracles by suggestion and by using powers that are available to any who care to exercise them, He must have known this, and consequently He was a deceiver when He said "the works that I do witness of Me" (John 10:25). "The Father that dwells in Me, He does the works . . . believe Me for the very works' sake" (John 14:10-11).

All the Lord's miracles were works of mercy, with the one exception of the cursing of the fig tree, and some great significance lay behind that act. It was with fig leaves that Adam and Eve endeavoured to clothe their nakedness after their disobedience and fall in Eden. and the Jews' religion had degenerated into the effort to secure by ritual and works of the law a covering for their moral and spiritual nakedness, while remaining alienated from God and disobedient to Him. The whole system was condemned by God, as are all the efforts of men to cover their sin and obtain righteousness by works. We, who believe the Scriptures, know that the only covering for sin and the souls of sinners is atonement by blood. The word translated atonement in the Scriptures means, a covering. The fig tree that was cursed had yielded no fruit for the Lord and its leaves could not cover the sinners' nakedness. I suggest that the cursing of the fig tree was a symbolical act, teaching us these great and fundamental facts. The time and circumstances in which it was done seem to confirm this.

The beginning of His miracles was in Cana of Galilee, and by it He manifested His glory and His disciples believed on Him. It was a remarkable miracle, this turning the water into wine at the marriage feast. He had ordained the marriage tie in the beginning, and though it had become sadly marred by sin He hallowed it by His presence. They were not great or rich, this couple who called Jesus to their marriage; indeed the fact that they had no wine would indicate that they were very poor, but Jesus was the Friend of the poor, as He is to this day, and He manifested His glory by caring for them in their need and raising the joy of their marriage day to a level they could not have known if He had not been there. "He provided a fit accompaniment, provided it of the best, and in such large measure as has alarmed and amazed the timid moralist. The quality and the greatness of the gift were worthy of God; and we see the generosity all the more clearly when we remember that this bountiful Creator had a little while before refused to create bread to relieve Himself of hunger" (Nicholl).

The glory that began to shine at Cana shed a greater brightness at the close of those eventful years, when His foes pressed about Him to arrest Him.

Malchus, the servant of the high priest would hold a commission from his master to go with Judas into the garden and lead the multitude that went out to capture the Lord. How astonished Peter must have been when he saw Judas step out of the crowd and put the traitor kiss upon his Lord. He did not know how to deal with Judas, but he had no hesitation as to how to treat Malchus, when he, vaunting his temporary authority, laid hands upon the Lord, and in the name of the high priest directed the band to make Him prisoner. At such audacity Peter's indignation flamed hotly, and drawing his sword he aimed one mighty blow at the dastard, meaning to lay him dead at his feet, cleft through the skull.

It was new work for the fisherman, he had not been trained to wield a sword, and his misdirected energy only resulted in the loss of an ear to Malchus, and the exposure of his own impetuous folly, and shall we add, his true love for his Master. But there was yet another result. The Lord had said "I must work the works of Him that sent Me, while it is day: the night comes when no man can work. As long as I am in the world I am the light of the world" The gloom of night was gathering thickly upon the world, but He was still its light, and there was one more work of mercy that He must do before the devil and men had their way, a work not to be wrought upon a friend but upon a foe, who had come against Him with murder in his heart. Hence, with a word of gentle rebuke to Peter He stretched forth His hand and touched the severed ear and healed it.

"Wist ye not that I must be about My Father's business" are the first words that are recorded as having come from His mouth in the Gospel of Luke, in which Gospel alone is the healing of the ear recorded. That business was blessing and not judgment; it was healing and not a sword. The audacity of Malchus and the impetuosity of Peter only served as an opportunity for the continued goodness that was in Him, and having done that work He submitted Himself to His foes and they bound with cords His hands that had only been stretched forth to bless.

The works of the Lord were such as no other man did (John 15:24). How wonderful they were! Consider the feelings of the leper, when the Lord, moved with compassion, stretched forth His hand, laid it upon him, saying, "I will, be thou clean." Consider the feelings of Jairus and his wife when the Lord took their dead daughter by the hand and said, "Maid, arise," and showed not His power only, but His consideration for the child when He commanded them to give her meat. Think of His care for the people who were faint by the way, when He provided them with such a meal as they had never had before and that out of five loaves and two small fishes. Stand by and behold Him when He said to the widowed woman, bereaved of her only son, "Weep not," and then turning to the dead son said "Young man, I say to thee, arise." He might have claimed the life and service of that young man and added, "Follow Me," but He did not, He delivered him to his mother. What heart could have remained unmoved that saw His cheeks wet with tears as Mary of Bethany bowed down in her sorrow at His feet, or remained unthrilled with a hitherto unfelt triumph when He cried with a loud voice, "Lazarus, come forth"? It is not easy to say whether the compassion of His heart or the power of His word would command the greatest admiration on that great occasion.

These miracles all declared what the feelings of God were towards His creatures in their misery, and though they were wrought in vain as far as the nation in which they were done was concerned, they abide for us in the record of them in the Holy Scriptures. We may read of them and meditate upon them and bow down with Thomas before the face of Jesus and confess Him as our Lord and our God. We may rejoice in that great salvation, which first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both by signs and wonders and diverse miracles and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will" (Heb. 2).